Roque proposes decommissioning of BRP Sierra Madre

Ex-pres’l spokesman Roque proposes decommissioning of BRP Sierra Madre

/ 11:47 AM April 02, 2024

RUSTY OUTPOST Members of a resupply mission prepare to embark the grounded naval ship BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, one of the nine outposts guarding the West Philippine Sea, to replenish supplies for its troops. — FILE PHOTO

RUSTY OUTPOST Members of a resupply mission prepare to embark the grounded naval ship BRP Sierra Madre at Ayungin (Second Thomas) Shoal, one of the nine outposts guarding the West Philippine Sea, to replenish supplies for its troops. — FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — Former presidential spokesman Harry Roque said on Tuesday that The BRP Sierra Madre, a World War II ship grounded in Ayungin Shoal, should finally be decommissioned as a military vessel.

Roque, in a televised interview, floated the idea that the BRP Sierra Madre should instead be made as a Coast Guard vessel.

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“What we should do is we should decommission [BRP] Sierra Madre as a military vessel and make it into a Coast Guard vessel so that it will not be a militarized vessel,” said Roque over ANC’s Headstart.

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“Therefore, if we decommission it, perhaps China will allow it to be repaired,” he explained.

Roque then emphasized that he is not certain whether or not China will allow BRP Sierra Madre to be repaired if the country makes it as a Coast Guard Vessel.

But he did note that doing so would make the Philippines “conform” with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS.)

In the same interview, Roque claimed that the Arbitral Tribunal did not rule on the Philippines’ “prayer” to declare China’s actions as violative of the UNCLOS “because the concept of an exclusive economic zone is that it must not be militarized.”

READ: PH vessel sustains ‘heavy damage’ in Chinese coast guard attack

Philippine Coast Guard vessel Unaizah May 4 en route for a resupply mission in Ayungin Shoal was water cannoned by China on March 23.

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The incident caused heavy damage to the resupply boat and injured some of the Filipino crew on board.

Following this event, President Marcos ordered the strengthening of the Philippine maritime security.

The chief executive, in a separate statement, said, “Filipinos do not yield.”

China, on the other hand, maintained its sweeping claim over the West Philippine Sea, including Ayungin Shoal.

It likewise claimed that Unaizah May 4 transported “large amount[s] of construction materials on March 23.”

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The Chinese embassy in Manila previously told reporters, “The purpose is not to resupply life necessities, but to repair and reinforce the illegally grounded warship.”

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